Call it temporary retail or flash selling, the pop-up shop concept is experiencing a boom.

Yet it’s nothing new. Appearing in large cities such as Tokyo and New York as early as the 1990s, the pop-up shop provides a unique shopping experience which retailers are still utilising today.

Online businesses use it as an engagement strategy, to give customers a physical experience and increase brand awareness.

But even celebrities are getting in on the act, with Fearne Cotton announcing this week that she’ll be launching a pop-up fashion shop, selling items gathered from designers while filming her show Fearne on Fashion.

As low risk business ideas go, the pop-up shop offers the opportunity for brands to dip a toe into the bricks and mortar experience without being committed to an expensive lease.

These stores ‘pop up’ for between one day to three months, usually within areas of high footfall like shopping centres or busy high streets.

They can be used to launch new products, increase sales during holiday periods, test out a location or brand, or even just to improve customer experience.

The retail format allows a brand to build stronger relationships with the market by increasing customer engagement - and it’s 80% cheaper than opening a traditional shop.

Well known brands such as eBay, Gap and Target have tried hosting pop-up products in their stores. Artists, fashion designers and even food truck owners have given this retail marketing strategy a try.

It was once a guerrilla strategy for emerging brands to interact with customers. But the short term retail space has become a mainstream weapon, adopted by everyone from Louis Vuitton to Kanye West.

Recognising this retail evolution was here to stay, Ross Bailey founded his company Appear Here, which earned him a place in Forbes’ European list of Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 for retail and e-commerce.

Having capitalised on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by opening a pop-up shop selling souvenir T-shirts in 2012, he recognised the potential of this brand marketing strategy. Through his company, he hopes to make renting retail space as easy as booking a hotel room, and works with brands to build customer relationships through pop-up shops.

The downside of this retail evolution is that smaller brands lack the financial and marketing resources to stage pop-ups on the scale of their larger counterparts. And with competition only set to intensify, the little guy will have to be innovative.

When it comes to building brand recognition, it will no longer be enough to open a temporary store.

Retailers need to pay attention to the design and concept, to make their flash retail experience stand out in a very crowded marketplace.


For help and advice on retail marketing trends, contact us on 0800 612 9890.